Early Albums From Jazz Titans Get New Reissue Thanks To VMP x Bethlehem Records

On November 9th 2020 » By Vinyl Me, Please Staff

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In the past, Vinyl Me, Please has partnered with legendary jazz labels like Blue Note, Prestige, and Jazz Dispensary to bring you fine slabs of jazz vinyl. In VMP’s latest collaboration, you can get early albums from some of jazz’s biggest names, thanks to Bethlehem Records. Read more to learn about these four albums, and buy them in a bundle here.

Bethlehem Records was founded in 1953 as an independent label by Gus Wildi, and they eventually became famous for how many of the absolute titans of jazz recorded for the label in their early days. Everyone from Charles Mingus to Donald Byrd recorded sides for Bethlehem, but the label had just under a decade before it faltered and had second, third and fourth lives as primarily a reissue label for its earlier work.

Dexter Gordon, Daddy Plays the Horn

Dexter Gordon wasn’t quite THE Dexter Gordon when he made Daddy Plays the Horn, but his unique, obtuse way of playing the saxophone and hitting his rhythm section’s playing at weird, swinging angles was already fully formed for this album. Recorded in between periods of tumult and distress—he was in and out of jail with a bear of a heroin addiction—Gordon is one of the finest men to ever put a reed in his mouth, and this album—particularly “Autumn in New York”—belongs in every discerning Jazzbo’s collection.

Buy this record here.

Charles Mingus, The Jazz Experiments of Charlie Mingus

Originally released as a series of 10-inches, before being compiled into an LP, this album is one of Charles Mingus’ first masterworks, an album that hints at the compositional flourishes he’d being to his masterpieces Mingus Ah Um and Black Saint and the Sinner Lady. A portrait of the artist as a young man, delivered in two sides of delightful jazz.

Buy this record here.

Donald Byrd & Pepper Adams, Motor City Scene

Donald Byrd and Pepper Adams—and their ace band, including Kenny Burrell—deliver what is one of the finest performances of “Stardust” you’ll ever hear on this album, a song so nice, they made it the title of the reissue of the album, and released it twice. And that’s just the first track; this is Donald Byrd hitting his first peak, and summoning a band behind him that was formidable, and deft.

Buy this record here.

Booker Ervin, The Book Cooks

Booker Ervin was one of jazz’s biggest what-if’s; he died young, at 39, from kidney disease, right as he was hitting another wave of sonic experiments. He was a tenor who played the blues like they emanated from deep inside him, taking inspiration from field hollers as much as bebop. He got compared to Coltrane—who made a lot of similar playing decisions—but he had a different way of playing his blues. His debut LP, The Book Cooks, shows he arrived on the solo scene essentially fully formed; he’d change towards the end of the ‘60s, but this LP was a roadmap for him for the first part of his bandleader career.

*Buy this record here.*

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